Cheesy Potato Bake

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I grew up in a meat and potatoes household.  My mum would often make a potato casserole which consisted of thinly sliced potato rounds on a crunchy, buttery breadcrumb crust, topped with either Swiss or cheddar cheese.  It’s so simple, yet so incredibly delicious, and it is a great paired with any meat you choose to serve.  This is my take on my mum’s classic.

I should note that the measurements are guesstimates—you can double, even triple the ingredients depending on the number of people you are serving.  This particular recipe serves four.  If you are serving more people, use a 9×13-inch baking dish, double the butter and bread crumb measurements, and use 1 large baking potato for every 2 people.  Increase the amount of bacon and onion as you see fit.

 

6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 medium onion, diced

3 Tbsp salted butter

1/4  cup breadcrumbs (I like to use Panko)

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

1. Cook the bacon in a medium or large skillet over medium heat, until browned and crisp.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Pour off the rendered bacon fat (save it for another use instead of throwing it away—it’s liquid gold, damnit!), leaving 1 Tbsp in the pan.

2. Lower the heat to low, then add the diced onion to the skillet and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

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3. As the onions cook, preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

4. Place the salted butter in an 8×8-inch baking dish.  When you are ready to begin assembling the casserole, place the baking dish in the oven to melt the butter; this takes about 5 minutes.

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5. Once the butter has completely melted, remove the baking dish from the oven and swirl the butter around to thoroughly distribute.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the melted butter.

6. Place half of the potato rounds over the butter and breadcrumbs in an even layer, overlapping if necessary.  Season lightly with salt and pepper, or to taste.

7. Evenly distribute the caramelized onions over the potato layer.

8. Next, sprinkle the bacon evenly over the caramelized onions.

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9. Place the remaining potatoes in an even layer over the bacon, overlapping if necessary.  Once again, season lightly with salt and pepper, or to taste.

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10.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.  Cook for 45 minutes.

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11. Remove the baking dish from the oven, take off the foil, and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the potatoes.  Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes more, or once the cheese is thoroughly melted over the potatoes.

12. Remove the casserole from the oven and allow it to stand for 5 minutes to cool.  Serve immediately.

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Serves 4

 

Variation Ideas

Mum’s Classic Swiss Cheese Potatoes: Follow the directions above, omitting the caramelized onion and bacon; substitute Slices of Swiss cheese for the shredded cheddar.

Mum’s Classic Cheddar Cheese Potatoes: Follow the directions above, omitting the caramelized onion and bacon layers.

Mushroom-Swiss Potatoes: Follow the directions above, omitting the caramelized onion and bacon.  Sauté 8 ounces sliced mushrooms in 1 Tbsp unsalted butter. Once the mushrooms soften and begin to release their juices, stir in 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Continue to sauté for a few more minutes until the mushrooms are fully cooked, about 8 minutes total.  After placing the first layer of potatoes in the baking dish, spoon the mushrooms evenly over the potatoes.  Place the remaining potatoes over the mushrooms.  Substitute Swiss cheese for the cheddar.

Pizza Potatoes: Use Italian seasoned bread crumbs.  Substitute chopped pepperoni or cooked and crumbled sausage (or a combination of both) for the caramelized onion and bacon.  Rather than using cheddar, use either Provolone cheese or shredded Mozzarella and a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese to top the potatoes.

Tex-Mex Potatoes: Instead of seasoning the potatoes with salt and pepper, sprinkle on a little of your favorite taco seasoning.  Omit the bacon.  Rather than caramelize the onion, sauté it in vegetable oil over medium-high heat along with a diced bell pepper until both are softened, about 7 minutes. Substitute Mexican-cheese blend for the cheddar.

 

 

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